Starting and growing a business is a deeply gratifying experience. Your business is a reflection of your unique gifts and experience—a contribution that no one else can make to the world. However, it’s not always easy.
Throughout several years of running a custom jewelry studio and coaching purpose-driven entrepreneurs, I’ve grown and been stretched more than I could imagine. There’s no single right way to run a business, and we’re all on a journey of discovery.
There’s no single right way to run a business, and we’re all on a journey of discovery.
Here’s a few things I’ve learned about how to thrive as an entrepreneur.
Learn about yourself.
Honesty is best when it comes to your business. The start-up stage can be grueling, and you don’t want to build something you won’t enjoy. You’ll wear many hats and some may not be your favorite, but the bulk of the work should align with your talents, interests and past experience.
Now is the time for personal exploration. Ask yourself:
- What are your strengths? What are your assets?
This might be prior work experience, education, finances or a professional network.
- What gives you life?
Consider keeping a journal for a week to identify what activities give you energy and which drain you.
- How can you leverage your strengths to overcome challenges?
After you’ve taken inventory of your strengths and assets, take notes on how to use those strengths to overcome any challenges you might encounter.
- How much is “enough” revenue from your business? What would success look like for you? How many hours are you willing to work? What boundaries will you need in place?
It’s more difficult to define values while you’re in the midst of struggle. Define your values around time and money. Take time to set the values and intentions you want to operate from in the future.
Create a self-care routine.
There will be tough days in your business. Don’t wait until you are already exhausted to try and refill your bucket. Build a healthy foundation by creating a self-care routine. As a business owner who is also raising four children, proactive self-care has become essential for me.
Here are a few tips that have served me well:
- Review my journal of life-giving and life-draining activities to identify things that could trigger exhaustion, as well as ways to refill.
- Make a list of self-care practices you’ll need on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis.
Consider your physical, emotional and spiritual needs. A few of my practices include a weekly long walk with a podcast, a monthly date with nature and annual health check-ups.
- Schedule your self-care on your calendar.
Booking appointments with yourself means you’ll be more likely to keep yourself running in a balanced state.
Build a community of encouragers.
Building a business is exciting. You’ll want to celebrate your wins and also maintain a sense of hope. As with a self-care routine, building your community of encouragement now will start you off with the support you’ll need throughout the life of your business.
Tell friends and family about your new venture. It may be tempting to wait until you’ve had “success,” but the whole point is to have support and encouragement before you have the “proof.” Running a business is often an act of faith, and there are days when you’ll need others to hold the faith for you. Don’t wait on success to connect. Let people accompany you at every step.
Running a business is often an act of faith, and there are days when you’ll need others to hold the faith for you.
That said, do be choosy about who you bring into your circle. This is sacred ground. Be sure you’re sharing with people who respect that. You’ll want people that can provide support without judgment or unnecessary fear.
Explore creative ways to broaden your community of encouragers. Consider networking or mastermind groups to meet other entrepreneurs. Make a list of motivating music, quotes, social media accounts, books and movies to keep you inspired.
Plan and take action.
A business is its own entity and warrants thoughtful planning. However, don’t let fear or perfectionism turn into procrastination. There’s nothing about running a business that you can’t handle.
- Invest in learning.
Think back to your list of strengths, assets and areas of growth. Where might you benefit from professional development? The surge in online courses has made it easier than ever to learn new skills. Word to the wise: Invest in learning, but don’t use it as a way to procrastinate. There is a temptation to wait until you’ve learned everything, but some things just have to be learned by doing.
- Make a plan but practice flexibility.
You don’t know what you don’t know. Businesses that are flexible are more likely to survive.
- Invest time in creating systems.
It takes longer at first, but systems create more time as you grow. They also lead to a more sustainable business in the long run.
Also, a few practicalities to plan for when starting a business: Create a separate checking account from the beginning. Research licensing requirements, and consider hiring an accountant if you’re not versed in the tax implications of owning a business.
With knowledge of yourself, a solid foundation of self-care and encouragement and a plan that is adaptable, welcome to the journey of a lifetime! It’s hard to top the joy earned from launching your ideas out into the world. I can’t wait to see what you create.
What tips do you have for the new entrepreneur? In business, what are some things you can plan ahead for and some that you cannot?
Image via Sierra Prescott, Darling Issue No. 16